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ADHB forced to dump patients from FSA lists

ADHB forced to dump patients from FSA lists

Heather Roy Thursday, 5 May 2005 - Health

District Health Boards are being forced to dump patients from their First Specialist Assessment lists, as they come under pressure to control the escalating waiting list figures which are embarrassing Health Minister Annette King, ACT health spokesman Heather Roy said today.

Auckland DHB papers show the board has decided to send non-urgent eye and orthopaedic patients back to their family doctors without being seen by the specialist they were referred to.

This highlights the “dire straits” District Health Boards now find themselves in, Mrs Roy said. The board papers show that some non-urgent orthopaedic referrals will not be accepted and patients in this category, already on the waiting list, will be reviewed by letter and questionnaire from 18 April.

Eye patients with chronic non-sight threatening conditions will be returned to GP care from 26 April.

The Auckland DHB has been forced to take this action to get the escalating numbers of people on their First Specialist Assessment lists down. Because of resource constraints these people cannot be seen and keeping them on their books makes the Minister of Health look bad,” Mrs Roy said.

The Government has decreed that no one should wait longer than 6 months to be assessed by a specialist, but in the last 4 months the number of people around the country waiting longer than 6 months has increased by 25%.

Auckland DHB figures show the number of people waiting has increased from 2,401 to 2,834 since September last year. On 31 December 2004 15,225 people were waiting for a First Specialist Assessment.

District Health Boards are doing their best to cope with referrals under very difficult circumstances.

During Annette King’s time as health minister, more than 2 billion dollars of extra money has been thrown at health, yet Treasury Reports on DHB performance show that productivity in hospitals has decreased 2 years running.

"DHBs now have to pay depreciation and capital charges out of operational funding and increased costs imposed by the Holidays Act and nurses pay settlement, meaning there is less money available to treat patients, Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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